Wander Minnesota: Art-A-Whirl

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Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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Friday marks the opening of the 19th annual Art-A-Whirl. This hugely popular art tradition sprawls out over several venues across NE Minneapolis. It’s a great opportunity to meet the artists themselves in their work spaces, see (and purchase!) original artworks, and support the arts community. For some practical tips on planning a visit to Art-A-Whirl, see How to Whirl, and for tips on visiting with kids, see Savvy Mom’s story on how to survive and thrive at Art-A-Whirl with kids in tow.

In preparation for this year’s Whirl, I visited the studios of four artists at the Northrup King Building. Here is just a very small sample of what you can find when visiting Northrup King (and the other art sites) at this year’s exhibits. Enjoy—these are artists doing beautiful, thought-provoking pieces in a diverse range of styles and mediums.

(credit: Loretta Bebeau)

(credit: Loretta Bebeau)

The artwork above hangs outside the door at the studio of Loretta Bebeau. The title of the piece, “You Are Here”, makes it an appropriate greeting, as does the wishes for good health reiterated in multiple languages. Bebeau, who has exhibited at every Art-A-Whirl, has had a studio at NKB for 11 years and is a full-time artist who was invited to exhibit in Washington DC by the Smithsonian in an International Gallery on the Mall, one of only 50 artists chosen to do so.

(credit: Loretta Bebeau)

(credit: Loretta Bebeau)

She’s fascinated with letters and words, as well as the critical role color plays in Feng Shui. She also works with a surprising medium: sheetrock. “It surprises people,” she said. “It’s deceptively simple. But they’re not easy to do, nor should they be.”

(credit: Terri Myers Wentzka)

(credit: Terri Myers Wentzka)

Down the hall from Bebeau’s studio is an Art-A-Whirl newcomer, Terri Myers Wentzka of Natural History Arts. Wentzka’s specialty is, of course, natural history art, with an eye finely tuned towards the details of nature. A focus of many of her current artworks is the world of nature found in eggs, as seen in the Red Tailed Hawk Egg above. It’s a challenging exercise in precision, and Wentzka works in many mediums: graphite, watercolor, and silverpoint.

(credit: Terri Myers Wentzka)

(credit: Terri Myers Wentzka)

Her work sometimes combines the highly realistic with more impressionistic details, and whimsical touches such as “found” grocery lists and the use of old hand-written financial ledgers as the background to her drawings and paintings.

(credit: James Edward Scherbarth)

(credit: James Edward Scherbarth)

James Edward Scherbarth is a painter of abstracts that at first glance may appear deceptively simple, but upon closer examination, reveal layers upon layers of details underneath the surface. He’s been inspired by travel to Ireland, as you can see in his painting Connemara above. This is his third Art-A-Whirl, and along with his paintings, he’ll exhibit art jewelry as well.

(credit: James Edward Scherbarth)

(credit: James Edward Scherbarth)

Being an artist and teacher is something he wanted to do for many years, “But Vietnam interfered,” he said. He returned to his aspirations in 2007 and became a professional in 2010. Of his work, he says, “It’s all about layers and patina. I’m inspired and motivated by the landscape.” He is one of a select few Minnesota artists recently invited to display his paintings at a new exhibit at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

(credit: Julia Timm)

(credit: Julia Timm)

Julia Timm of Fresh Mud Pottery is on her third Art-A-Whirl. She refers to her work as functional pottery, but it’s more than that—this function has unusual, eye-catching forms, sometimes whimsical. Her goal is to bring a certain joy into the usefulness of the objects through her use of color, decoration, and form.

(credit: Julia Timm)

(credit: Julia Timm)

Again, this is just a brief sample of what you’ll find on display and available for purchase at this weekend’s Art-A-Whirl. Go early, go often, and linger—it will be time well spent.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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